Pakistan received eight JF-17 fighters over the last two years, and has now signed a deal to buy the next 42, of 300, of these jets from China. These 42 will cost $14.3 million per aircraft. The final 250 will cost $12 million each.
When the first JF-17 fighter arrived in Pakistan two years ago, it ended over twenty years of development for what was first called the Super 7 fighter. The JF-17 was developed by China in cooperation with Pakistan, which originally only wanted to buy 150 of them. All this came about because Pakistan could not get modern fighters from anyone else, and turned to China.
The 13 ton JF-17 is meant to be a low cost alternative to the American F-16. The JF-17 is considered the equal to earlier versions of the F-16, but only 80 percent as effective as more recent F16 models. The JF-17 uses the same Russian engine, the RD-93, that is used in the MiG-29. The JF-17 design is based on a cancelled Russian project, the MiG-33. Most of the JF-17 electronics are Western, with Italian firms being major suppliers. At one time, there was a serious a snag because the Russians did not want to allow the JF-17s to go to Pakistan with Russian engines. Negotiations resolved this problem, aided by the current peace talks between India (a long time Russian customer) and Pakistan.
The JF-17 can carry 3.6 tons of weapons and use radar guided and heat seeking missiles. It has max speed of nearly 2,000 kilometers an hour, an operating range of 1,300 kilometers and a max altitude of 55,000 feet. It is arriving just in time to replace many aging MiG-21s that Pakistan is still flying.